Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dr. Organics redux

A few weeks ago I installed a handy-dandy page view counter on my blog, and one really neat thing about it is that, among other things, it tracks the search terms that people use to find my blog. A very surprising result is that a ton of people end up here because they're googling something regarding Dr. Organics. Note that I installed the counter months after I made my one post on Dr. Organics.

I like how the third and forth comments on that post are simultaneously spammy and evangelical. Looking at Dr. Organics actual website, it kinda looks like it's some Avon-esque thing, where people sign up and then try to sell the stuff to their friends. I also like how it has the word "doctor" in the name of the product--if it says "doctor" that means it must be scientifically sound and healthy!

Oh, but I kid. Mostly. Sort of. There are a lot of similar snake oil products out there, and I don't think Dr. Organics is any worse than anything else, I just happened to get spammed by them. And while it's probably not too harmful to take megadoses of vitamins, etc. like that, I also don't think it's very healthy, either, not nutritionally or psychologically.

Let's respond to the comments in my last post.

Jim McEnroe writes, Some of the comments you say may be true, but check out the eating habits of most Americans, especially young people. Fast food is their only food source, if that!

Not really sure what he means by "if that" (like, that they're not eating at all?) but regarding the eating habits of the majority of Americans, I would absolutely agree that we as a nation eat far, far, far too much junk food, fast food, overprocessed fat and empty calories, etc. So far we're in agreement.

Not only that, we are spreading our bad habits throughout the world.

Again, yes, absolutely. Countries like China and India are going to hell in a handbasket because they're trying to emulate America's extremely unsustainable way of life.

I would rather promote Dr. Organics than McDonalds, Zoloft, and GREED.

This is where you lose me. The choice is not as black and white as that, and there are gradations between Dr. Organics and McDonalds. Also there is the, in my opinion, far superior option of "promoting" fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains--the kind of food that often doesn't come with a brand name attached.

The next comment is apparently from Nancy Leavitt, one of the founders of Dr. Organics, and I guess my post bummed her out, sorry Nancy. She says that she was disturbed by my post, but, frankly, I am disturbed by her comment. Here are a few choice excerpts:

We founded this company on truth. [...] We are here to make a difference! [...] We are not like the others. [...] I don't know what your "friends" have told you, but if I were you, I would go to the source to find out the truth. [...]

Does that strike anyone else as, erm, a bit cultish? Nancy, m'dear, we're allowed to disagree without you insulting my friends by putting quotation marks around them.

As for my knowledge of, um, "the truth" about Dr. Organics, all I know about them is what's up on their website, and the two evangelical comments I got on my last post about them. But it seems like they are preying on people's desire to belong to a group and to be healthy, and are also tapping into a growing distrust of the status quo ("McDonalds and Zoloft"). And they're doing it by selling a product, utilizing a lot of the same advertising and marketing techniques of the institutions they're railing against. And at $40-60 for a tub of powder (about 30 doses/servings), somebody's getting rich off this.

I feel really sorry for the people who fall for this, who think that "pure, organic nutrition" is a powder or pill. What a waste of money. And I imagine this will only wreck havoc on their eating habits--why eat vegetables when you can just take your Dr. Organics? Even if Dr. Organics can extract all the vitamins and antioxidants from a piece of fruit (which I doubt), whole fresh fruit also contains fiber and water, which is pretty vital, too. One reason its so important to eat 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day is because 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables is a sizable chunk of food and it fills you up. If you're eating 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, you're going to be far less likely to eat unhealthy food or to overeat in general, because you'll be full.

And if you're already eating 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables, why would you need to take supplements like Dr. Organics? You're body can only handle so much at a time, and excess levels of vitamins either get flushed out in your pee or they'll accumulate and make you all kinds of sick.

The funny thing is, I agree with about half of what they say, that modern, western eating habits are atrocious, that there are a lot of companies out there spouting half-truths about the healthfulness of their products, and that we need more of the nutrition found in fruits and vegetables. Only I advocate eating actual fruits and vegetables, not some concentration of isolated nutrients.

I'm not anti-medicine, and I'm not even anti-supplement, but this is nutrition they're talking about. The human body evolved to eat food. In terms of vitamins, minerals, protein, etc., a person can get everything they need from eating actual food, and what we need to do, if we want to improve the health status of Americans, is improve access to good, healthy food: more community gardens; more farmer's markets; more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in school lunches; less cheap and overprocessed junk food on the grocery store shelves--hell, even getting restaurants to serve more veggie-heavy meals. Things like that will do a world of good, so much more than shilling for Dr. Organics, or any other mega-supplement.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's lunchtime. I'm going to go eat some vegetables.

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